Growing up in Western Sydney I was raised in a single-income household, without the latest toys, brand-name clothes, holidays, or visits to the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
From a young age, I was thirsty for success.
At age fourteen, I started my first business installing car stereos from my parent’s garage. I had a knack for electronics and figured out circuitry. Using my older sister’s car as a guinea pig, I managed to figure out how to install a head-unit and a set of speakers. I began telling people I knew and word quickly got around. When people began asking for quotes, I told them to get a quote from a professional car stereo retail chain and promised to charge fifty per cent less. This venture helped me to successfully fund everything in my life up to the age of 20: car, a dirt bike, brand-name clothes and so on.
It was, however, my next job as a toolmaker, that sparked my passion for marketing and landed me at age 25, heading up the Australian marketing department for a NYSE, Fortune 500 multi-national corporation and a leading Australian franchise business.
Not many people know what a toolmaker is, but my job was essentially to create the moulds or tools for a range of items. I’d been working in this role straight out of high school and the Managing Director of the company asked if I’d be interested in exhibiting on their behalf at a career exhibition to inspire other young people to join the trade. It was in putting together the trade display with brochures and samples that I felt inspired and found my calling in marketing.
The next 14+ years were spent studying and working in marketing, achieving numerous undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and eventually an MBA, which I completed whilst anticipating the birth of my first-born twins.
A string of roles both in-house working in the marketing departments of organisations, to working in marketing agencies, landed me at the head of my own digital marketing agency, Menace Group, and I am incredibly grateful for every step of the journey that brought me to where I am today.
As well as forming my own agency, I’ve invested in a number of promising Australian startups and am releasing my first book in May, titled ‘I Just Want It To Work: A Guide to Understanding Digital Marketing and Social Media for Frustrated Business Owners, Managers and Marketers’. It is my personal mission to help educate business owners, managers and marketers globally on digital and social media marketing, helping them make educated decisions when either employing an internal resource or engaging a 3rd party agency. These are five lessons I learnt from this journey.
1. Age is irrelevant: Commitment and value are key to starting a business
At fourteen I was unfamiliar with the term entrepreneur; I had identified a skill I had which I worked hard to perfect, then applied it to create a value offering for customers. I didn’t have any huge overheads, so was able to charge less and offer people a quality service at half the price they would otherwise be paying. This value offering ensured word-of-mouth spread and I had a steady flow of customers to fund my lifestyle. Age didn’t factor, as my work spoke for itself. Businesses can be started at any age, so long as you’re committed to making them work.
2. Imposter Syndrome: Fear should be faced head on
No one can really prepare you for the fear of being in charge, of being the key decision maker, but I know I found it comforting to know that I certainly wasn’t alone in experiencing the ‘imposter syndrome’. I had worked hard both on my education and real-world application of my skills, and yet there would be times of doubt and fear. I learnt to embrace that fear and be proud of my achievements and push on through any days where insecurity crept in. Fear is there to push us to achieve more, reach further and not rest on our laurels.
3. Resilience: To be challenged is to learn
The early hardships of growing up in a household where a single paycheck was divided up to cover the necessities drove me to want more for myself, but also taught me that my mother had made those choices to spend more time with us, her family. When my wife and I began trying to start a family, I was working in a high-stress role and we experienced a number of miscarriages that were utterly devastating. It wasn’t until I made the decision to follow my passion and start my own business, that my wife fell pregnant with our two beautiful twin daughters and things began to fall into place. We have since been blessed with a 3rd child, so 3 kids under 3, is a challenge in itself, when running a business, but I thrive on every minute of it.
4. Share your story to connect with your audience
Working with everyone from entrepreneurs through to global multi-nationals, one of the biggest lessons I’ve taken away is that building a genuine following or ‘tribe’ of people with an emotional investment in your business, comes from a willingness to share a part of you and your story. Every business or idea stemmed from somewhere and customers want to be taken on that journey with you. The real and human element behind your business is often what makes it unique and desirable. Never stop sharing your story and let your personality shine through. All too often people make the mistake of thinking their brand or image needs to be so carefully curated that it ends up losing a ‘real’ element that people connect with.
5. Knowing your audience is the key to good business
Any marketing efforts need to begin with a deep understanding of your audience. Who they are, where they are, what media they consume, what problems they face and what they value. Without knowing your audience inside out, you’ll waste money and resources reaching a mass-market, where only a small percentage are interested in your business. Identifying a niche audience and reaching them regularly with content that addresses their unique needs will enable you to build a loyal following and ultimately grow your business.
One of Australia’s leading digital marketing experts, Kevin Spiteri brings a refreshingly candid, crap-cutting approach to educating business owners, managers and marketers on the strategies to become dangerously good at digital. Starting his first business at 14, Kevin was heading up the marketing department of an ASX listed multi-national corporation at just 25. Releasing I Just Want It To Work: A Guide to Understanding Digital Marketing and Social Media for Frustrated Business Owners, Managers and Marketers in May 2017, he aims to educate business owners, managers and marketers globally about the digital and social media marketing space, helping them make educated decisions when either employing an internal resource or engaging a 3rd party agency. For more information on Kevin Spiteri and the upcoming launch of ‘I Just Want It To Work’ please visit www.kevinspiteri.com.au or book.kevinspiteri.com.au